Monday Morning Draft – Week 11

Here is the seventh edition of the Monday Morning Draft – a column that delves into the past weekend’s action from a 2013 NFL Draft perspective. As the season goes on, the draft picture and slotting will become more clear, but every Sunday will provide a few hints for next April.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Blow For Barkley/Stink for Smith:

There will be a lot of turnover as the season progresses in the positioning of which team will land the No. 1-overall pick to have the first shot at USC quarterback Matt Barkley or West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Here are the top contenders following the Week 11 action.

Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs didn’t put up a fight as the Bengals cruised over them 28-6. Kansas City is now 1-9 on the season. The Chiefs played the Steelers tough on Monday night six days earlier, but still lost the game. Prior to that performance, Kansas City hadn’t played competitive football in weeks. Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have been ineffective this season, so the prospects of the Chiefs getting on a roll in the final six games are zero.

Kansas City could easily lose out the rest of the season. The Chiefs are playing the worst football of any team in the league and need to clean house after the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars almost shocked the Texans, but Houston pulled out a 43-37 win in overtime. Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon had monster games after Blaine Gabbert went out with an injury.

Jacksonville’s fall to 1-9 on the season, and could easily be 0-10. The team’s lone win came when it stole a game from Indianapolis with a last-minute 80-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Cecil Shorts in busted coverage.

It will be interesting to see how much better the Jaguars will be with Henne as their starter over the inept Gabbert. Even if Henne helps them win a few games, Jacksonville just doesn’t have the talent on its roster to avoid a top-10 pick.

Cleveland Browns:
Cleveland had a lead on Dallas, but the Cowboys came back to pull out a 23-20 win over the Browns. Cleveland fell to 2-8 on the season, but played a competitive game and the young squad seem to be improving as the season progresses.

The Browns previously played close games in other contests, but couldn’t get wins over the Eagles, Bengals or Bills. Cleveland is still a candidate to land the No. 1 pick, but that seems very unlikely as the team is playing better football than Kansas City or Jacksonville.

Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers fell to 2-8 after blowing an 11-point lead late in the fourth quarter to the Bucs. Cam Newton left points on the field and Carolina’s secondary choked in crunch time.

The Panthers had a rough start to the season, but seemed to be headed in the right direction with a road win over Washington. A few weeks earlier, Carolina was up 19-7 in the fourth quarter before Chicago came storming back to win 23-22.

The Panthers still have winnable games against the Chiefs and the Raiders on the schedule. Carolina could be headed to a 4-12 season with a new front office and coaching staff come January.

Oakland Raiders:
Oakland fell to 3-7 after losing at home to New Orleans. Two of the Raiders wins came against the Chiefs and Jaguars, so that is nothing to brag about. More impressive than those wins was when Oakland played Atlanta tough on the road and tied the game at 20 with 40 seconds remaining. The Falcons’ Matt Bryant made a 55-yard field goal with only seconds left to beat the Raiders. That game was an anomaly as Oakland is short of talent to compete on a weekly basis.

The previous regime traded for Carson Palmer and drafted Terrelle Pryor. New general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen won’t hesitate to start their rebuilding process with a franchise quarterback if there is one available that they like.

Let’s Play Matchmaker:

This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.

Miami Dolphins: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Dolphins offense is devoid of play-makers and that was apparent on Thursday night. Ryan Tannehill had an awful game with Brian Hartline and Reggie Bush struggling against Buffalo. Miami clearly needs to get Tannehill more help and build up a stable of weapons for him to work with.

Hunter would be a perfect receiver for the Dolphins’ West Coast offense. He has experience in a West Coast system playing for Jim Chaney at Tennessee. Hunter has the size to work the short to intermediate part of the field but also enough speed to get downfield. He has totaled 70 receptions for 1,018 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

If Hunter completely regains the speed and explosiveness he had before his 2011 knee injury, he could be a great deep threat as well. Tannehill would have a true No. 1 receiver if Miami could land Hunter next April.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Jaguars totally lack talent. They need help all over their roster. The team will have to consider taking the best player they can get next April – regardless of position – in order to get a difference-maker. Even though the offense put up massive points against Houston thanks to Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon, the defense was completely inept. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 527 yards and five scores with Andre Johnson (14-273) having a massive day.

An elite player like Jones makes passing the ball difficult because he is such a tremendous pass-rusher and a disruptive force. He has 62 tackles, 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and 18 tackles for a loss this season. Jones had 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss in 2011. He is an elite player who will be an immediate starter in the NFL. The Jaguars would have a defensive building block if they could land Jones.

Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Cardinals’ defense grabbed six turnovers from Atlanta, but Arizona’s anemic offense was incapable of getting more than one touchdown. If the Cardinals had even average quarterback play, they could be in the playoff chase.

Instead, Arizona lost its sixth straight game. The team needs to sell out to get a quarterback over the offseason. The Cardinals should consider doing a deal like the one the Redskins did to land Robert Griffin III – if there is a quarterback available that they like that much.

Smith is currently playing the best football of any quarterback prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft. The quarterback class is weak, but Smith is one of the few quarterbacks to have helped himself this season. He has completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,361 yards with 35 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Smith has done a superb job of getting the ball into the hands of his play-makers with good accuracy going deep down the field. That is exactly what Arizona needs to take advantage of Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals will probably have to pull off a trade to land Smith.

Kansas City Chiefs: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
The Chiefs have to take a quarterback with their first pick, unless they land a good veteran from somewhere. The team will have to consider a safety with its second-round selection. Eric Berry has been hit-and-miss this season, but even if he straightens out, Kansas City needs an upgrade next to him.

Cincinnati got big games out of A.J. Green (6-91), Jermaine Gresham (6-69) and BenJarvis Green-Ellis (25-101) against the Chiefs’ vulnerable defense. Kansas City could use a safety who can defend the pass and help against the run.

Even though Jefferson had a bad night against West Virginia, he fits what the Chiefs need in a safety. Jefferson is very fast to run up to the line of scrimmage to defend the ground game. He also covers a lot of ground in pass coverage in the deep part of the field.

Jefferson is one of the most well-rounded players among this year’s draft-eligible safety prospects. He is Oklahoma’s leading tackler in 2012 with 91 tackles and two interceptions. Kansas City would benefit by adding Jefferson to its defense.

Indianapolis Colts: Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
The Colts’ secondary was torched by the Patriots and had no answer for Tom Brady on Sunday. New England’s variety of weapons worked over the Indianapolis secondary with ease.

The Colts could have a long-term cornerback in Vontae Davis, but they have to upgrade their safety play. Indianapolis is without its second-round pick because of the Davis trade, but the team could use a safety who makes plays in the deep middle of the field. The Colts have never adequately replaced Bob Sanders.

Indianapolis would do well to land Rambo in the third round. He is a first-round talent who could fall because of repeated off-the-field issues. Rambo has played in just seven games this year and has totaled 51 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble. He had eight interceptions for Georgia in 2011.

Rambo is an instinctive playmaker who would be a great fit in the Colts’ 3-4 defense.

Cleveland Browns: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Browns had no answer for Dez Bryant as he totaled 145 yards and a touchdown on 12 receptions. Cleveland needs a cornerback who can play in man coverage to pair with Joe Haden. The Browns don’t have their second-round pick, so they will have to wait to address the position until the third or fourth round.

If Cleveland could land Trufant at one of those picks, he would be a nice value selection. Trufant has had tight coverage all year and teams have avoided throwing his direction. He had a huge performance to help the Huskies beat Stanford as Washington had him playing on an island in man coverage all night.

Trufant has totaled 30 tackles, four passes broken up and an interception this season. His lack of interceptions obscures the fact that he is a good cover corner and a value pick after the first round.

Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Eagles are in a tough division to defend passing attacks. Assuming he stays healthy, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is only going to get better. He only completed 14-of-15 passes against Philadelphia on Sunday, but that was enough to throw four touchdowns. The Giants’ Eli Manning and Cowboys’ Tony Romo have a number of years left, so the Eagles have to fix their cornerback issues if they hope to beat their division rivals.

Milliner is the top cover corner in the 2013 NFL Draft. The junior had some mixed outings against Texas A&M and Mississippi State, but he has had a very good season to help his draft stock. Milliner is one of the nation’s leaders with 14 passes defensed. He also has two interceptions, a forced fumble and 45 tackles.

Milliner is fast, physical and has ball skills. There will be a lot of teams that are after him next April.

Team Draft Report:

In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2013 NFL Draft.

New England Patriots:
The Patriots dominated the Colts on Sunday, and New England is definitely in contention to bring home another Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots have a few areas to address this offseason to maintain their championship window while they still have the luxury of a Hall of Fame quarterback.

The wide receiver position needs some young talent. Wes Welker is probably only a short-term player for New England, and Brandon Lloyd hasn’t been as effective as most thought he would be. Adding a young stud receiver would help Tom Brady stay effective as he ages and his physical skills gradually decline. The Patriots could target a receiver in the first round to help their signal-caller and take advantage of defenses focusing attention on the team’s tight ends.

New England could also use some young talent for the inside of its offensive line. A talented young guard would be a nice addition. The Patriots got away with starting two backups at guard against the Colts on Sunday. That worked because Indianapolis has a weak defensive line that couldn’t take advantage.

If the Patriots don’t address the offensive line in free agency next March, they should in the 2013 NFL Draft. If the team doesn’t go with a wide out, using its first-round pick on Alabama’s Chance Warmack could provide New England with another elite guard to eventually be the leader of its offensive line.

Defensively, the Patriots will have to decide whether to re-sign Aqib Talib. He has the rest of this year to prove he is worth a contract, but if they let him go, the cornerback could use help. Alfonzo Dennard has nice potential, but the tea will need another starting corner.

Kyle Arrington is a quality backup but not a starter. Ras-I Dowling can’t stay healthy and New England could use a ballhawk to take advantage of its young pass-rushers. Defensive tackle is another minor need that could be addressed.

The Patriots have a limited amount of time to win it all with Brady, so building up the talent around him would be the best avenue to adding more rings for his fingers when he makes his speech at Canton.

St. Louis Rams:
First of all, St. Louis deserves some praise. The team’s new general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher have done a good job of improving the Rams after a debacle last season. The club has played above its talent level and is obviously more competitive than it was last year. Still, St. Louis is a team with some obvious needs.

The Rams sit in a good position to continue the rebuilding of their roster. St. Louis has two first-round picks in the next two drafts and will probably have back-to-back years with three selections in the top 50. The Rams took one first-rounder and three second-round picks last year, so the team is obviously pursuing quantities of high-graded talent. The extra picks also give St. Louis the ammo to move up in the draft if there is a player the front office absolutely has to have.

One player who could meet into that criterion is Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel. The biggest area to address is finding a franchise left tackle for quarterback Sam Bradford. The third-year signal-caller has taken way too many hits in his young career. The Rams have to give strong consideration to drafting a left tackle with their first selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. They should have two top-16 picks and landing Joeckel should be a priority.

After Joeckel, St. Louis also needs a true No. 1 receiver for Bradford. The team has a nice core of receivers in Danny Amendola, Brian Quick and Chris Givens but the Rams lack a true No. 1. They could land one who would make their existing trio even better and them a special receiving corps. St. Louis could consider California’s Keenan Allen, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Baylor’s Terrance Williams in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. All three have a combination of size and speed.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams have to find a play-making outside linebacker. If St. Louis can’t land a left tackle or wide out with one of its first-rounders, the team could consider Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. The Fighting Irish stud inside linebacker could move to the outside in the Rams 4-3 defense. St. Louis could possibly land an upgrade at Will linebacker with Alabama’s C.J. Mosley. He would be a great fit in the defense and is a phenomenal pass-defender.

Other needs for the Rams to consider are tight end, safety and the inside of their offensive line. The front office could also target these positions in free agency. St. Louis has racked up a lot of losses over the last five years, but with a couple of good drafts, the Rams could be on their way to being postseason contenders again.

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